WestJet Encore outlines eastern Canada launch timeline

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WestJet's new regional subsidiary Encore will begin evaluating service to eastern Canada nine months after launching flights this June.

Arik De, manager of network planning at Calgary-based WestJet, says that there is not a timeline for beginning service in eastern Canada beyond when it will begin evaluating opportunities in the region, at the Routes Americas 2013 forum in Cartagena today. Encore aircraft could be based in either Toronto or Montreal he says, adding that they the carrier sees significant opportunities in Quebec.

WestJet announced that Encore will initially serve western Canada with its fleet of Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s on 11 February. Destinations include new service to Nanaimo and Fort St. John in British Columbia, as well as to cities already served by the low-cost carrier.

"Anything within range of the Q400 is possible," says De.

Encore service to the USA will depend on the carrier receiving US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to fly to the country. De says that as a separate carrier it cannot fly to the USA under WestJet's existing certificate.

The FAA certification process is expected to begin six months after flights begin, he says.

De says again that any destination within range of the Q400 is "fair game". He includes Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington DC in a list of potential destinations in the USA that Encore could serve in the future.